Starting next September, poor eyesight will no longer be a barrier to learning for students at Public School 188 on New York's Coney Island and Public School 18 in the Bronx.
New vision centers will be housed in both schools next year, with the aim of providing quality eye care for the schools’ many low-income students. OneSight, a nonprofit arm of eyewear company Luxottica, will run both centers in partnership with the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), reports the New York Daily News. The centers, which will be funded by Medicaid reimbursements, are part of the Federation’s Community Schools Initiative to strengthen social services in schools.
The UFT joined forces with OneSight after the nonprofit opened a vision center in a low-income Ohio school last year. OneSight found that 64 percent of the students examined at that school needed glasses, OneSight Executive Director Dr. Jason Singh told The Huffington Post.
“Eighty percent of what we learn is visual, and yet one in four kids have an undiagnosed vision problem,” said Dr. Singh in a phone interview. “We’re passionate about creating sustainable solutions that are locally based, instead of creating an intermittent service that might provide service for only one to two weeks.”
In addition to serving students at PS 188 and PS 18, the centers will also be open to local children who attend different schools. According to Dr. Singh, the centers will provide transportation for local children who do not attend the schools.
PS 188 teacher Erica Maswary told the Daily News that the schools’ students, 93 percent of whom qualify for free or reduced lunches, are in need of eye care.
“The kids around here definitely need eye care,” said Maswary, who has been giving the kids makeshift eye exams. “I paced off 15 feet and I have them look at that old eye chart on the wall, and they tell me if it's blurry. How crazy is that? ... The kids and I make a game out of it, but it is very serious."